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Today on the journal, I’m delighted to have Danielle Ardern join us from County Marquees (who cover celebrations taking place in the Cotswolds, South West and Wales). Danielle will walk us through all the important considerations when you embark on planning a beautiful outside wedding using a marquee. Danielle is such an expert in this field helping hundreds of couples create an aesthetically pleasing space coupled with a logistically seamless experience. Over to you Danielle…!

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds
Will Hartop Photography

Olivia and I have worked together for many years. So we know that many of you come at planning a marquee wedding feeling excited at how beautiful it can be, but also with a little trepidation around the scale of it all. So Olivia has very kindly asked me to share as many insider tips as possible here to hopefully reassure you that whilst there is a lot to think about, we will do a lot of that thinking for you.

The Space

So many of the marquee images you will see show huge open sites. And yes that’s great, but its not essential. We will design a unique space for you! We have been planning weddings for over 30 years and in that time we have built on countless sloping sites, tennis courts, tiered gardens and incorporated numerous garden features, flower beds and steps.

There isn’t a set size of marquee that is perfect to suit a particular number of guests. Yes this is a big factor, but we also designs around the time of year & your chosen site as well as discussing your preferred furniture and its layout; a round bar close to the dance floor for a party feel, rustic long tables with cross back chairs for a relaxed dining space. From this process we then produce 2D and 3D CAD plans to share how the marquee will come to life at your venue.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds | Hamswell House
Camilla Arnhold Photography at Hamswell House

The Style

Part of the flexibility in design comes down to the styles of marquee on offer. Our Traditional Pole marquees (much like Sailcloth or Sperry tents) are perfect for larger more open grass sites which allow space for their guy ropes and the connecting walkways required between structures. Their central wooden poles add character to the interior and with clean white exteriors & flying festoons along the roof ridge it makes for a beautiful exterior look too. Practical’s to think of here; the pole/ guy rope support system means it’s not possible to secure this marquee on the suspended floor which we use to level a sloping or undulating site. So it’s for level sites only. Also you can’t directly connect one into another pole marquee, so separate areas are connected through small walkways.

If a client prefers a more contemporary look, wants to design a zoned space, or their venue has spectacular views we always err towards our Clearspan marquee (also referred to as Frame marquees) with either white or clear roofs and walls, this freestanding, modular marquee system is hugely adaptable! We can create covered terrace areas, enclose toilets within hidden rooms, drive in vintage vans for bar service … and the list goes on. These marquees also have a higher wind tolerance and can be secured on our suspended floor, so if you are planning for a Winter wedding or in an exposed location we would recommend this choice. Further thoughts; Clear marquees are stunning, but with recent record breaking summer temperatures we recommend some cover or drapes so that your guests, suppliers and flowers all survive the heat.

We don’t supply Tipis or stretch tents, but there are lots of wonderful suppliers out there. They are the perfect choice for an informal festival vibe, with a flow of inside / outside space & great with food trucks and late Summer brights. Like any pole structure they will take up a larger footprint on your site and its worth chatting with your supplier if you also require additional structures like catering marquees.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds
Through The Woods We Ran Photography

The Time of Year

People still associate marquee weddings with bright Summer days but we can now create beautiful days throughout the seasons! We just approach the design process a little differently. For Autumn and Winter weddings we use our Clearspan marquees and include solid floors, walls, doors and efficient heating systems. The interior focus is then always on amazing lighting and zoned spaces, creating an atmospheric drinks area, cosy dining and you can choose to hide your dance floor behind a reveal curtain so that there is a feeling of movement through the day into the evening.

The Boring Bits

Sorry that this hits so high on the priority list…. But it is essential to plan early for all the practical things that ensure you have a smooth running day.

Toilets; we supply luxury trailer units positioned to be easily accessed but not generally on show.

Power and its distribution; Almost all marquee weddings now require a generator (we use sizes starting at 30Kva) to cope with the power usage across the site as a whole. Catering equipment, bar, band, inside and outside lighting, heating, PA system… it’s a significant amount of power and cabling! We work with your suppliers to create a power plan so there is a socket in position ready for them and no hassle or power outages on the day.

Its also helpful to have access to running water for your caterers and florist if there is a nearby outside tap, and don’t underestimate the volume of waste! We can help you plan for where this can be stored out of sight until it can be removed and recycled post event.

The Pretty

There are SO many ways you can dress the inside of a marquee and really make it your own. Most marquee companies will offer you a range of drapes, furniture and decorative lighting and you can of course, use stylists or other hire companies to add finishing touches. So here I am just touching on the most common topics we discuss with couples.

Rounds vs Long tables is always top of the list of Q’ and Im afraid there is no best here! Long tables don’t save space. To allow for tableware and florals we recommend 3’ wide banquet tables so there is very little difference to what’s required for a round. Longs create beautiful clean lines and amazing photos, rounds are more sociable and great for sharing food.

Suspended floristry is a trend we continue to see and love! It’s a perfect match for the scale of a marquee roof space. If you put us in touch with your florist we can supply pulley systems and fixing points so they don’t have to work at height, they can feel 100% that their display is safe and secure and if it’s a hot weekend then finishing touches can be made at the last minute around your furniture.

Lighting is key. Layer it like you do at home. Overhead chandeliers are great for dining areas, uplighters give a general cosy warmth like lamps, canopies of fairy lights or festoon lights add sparkle and romance. If each is on a dimmer control you can adapt for the time of day. Weddings are all about atmosphere and lighting is they key to that.

Planning a marquee wedding in the Cotswolds | Berkeley Castle
Rob Tarren Photography at Berkeley Castle

The Outside Space

Its really common for us to meet with clients who have a complete picture of how their marquee interior will look, but haven’t considered the outside space. Post Covid we have noticed guests really do make use of outside space throughout the year. So if you have a gorgeous view you want your guests to gravitate to, capture this with a clear gable or line of windows and some pretty outdoor furniture and parasols. Or use an arc of lighting and plants to create a garden alongside your bar area. Matting pathways lined with festoon lights look great as an entrance, but can also guide your guests back to their cars / taxis after dark, or back and forth to your loos. If you are concerned about parking or a busy entrance onto a site, we can supply vehicle trackway.

Our aim always is to chat to you about all these things whilst offering help and guidance, so that we tick them all off and planning your wedding is fun from start to finish.

Lucy Parker Photography

To find out more about County Marquees and the great work they provide, head to their website here.

Olivia’s note: Marquee weddings are so incredibly versatile, especially if you have land to use for your special day. They lend themselves to English Countryside weddings which is totally my bag. I LOVE working on these types of weddings and events. They give you the opportunity to put your stamp on the design and layout, which may not be possible in a bricks and mortar venue.

There is a common misconception however, that marquee weddings are ‘easy to plan’ or ‘cheaper’ than working with a venue. I’m here to tell you that this is not the case whatsoever, there are SO many moving parts that need careful management. If a marquee wedding is your absolute dream and getting married at your family home or in a location that you hold dear is a must, I would advise that you choose your marquee company wisely.

I work with County Marquees amongst others in the South West of England who all provide the most wonderful service. You need to also consider applying for a TENS (Temporary Event Notice).You can obtain from your local council if you have a pay bar and/or live music playing. Additionally to this, I believe that marquee weddings should come equipped with planners as standard! They don’t of course, but I do think it’s absolutely necessary to have a professional wedding planner to both help plan the space, what’s going in it and how as well as having them manage the day itself. So, get in touch today to see how I can help you turn your dream outdoor wedding into a magical reality!

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Nestled in the rolling hills and lush countryside of Somerset, the historic city of Bath is a stone’s throw away from some of the most enchanting marquee wedding venues in the UK. As a wedding planner, I’ve had the privilege of orchestrating dream weddings at a variety of locations, and it’s my pleasure to guide you through my top three picks for marquee wedding venues near Bath: Hamswell House, Parish’s House, and Farleigh House. These venues offer a blend of breathtaking landscapes, historic charm, and modern luxuries, perfect for creating your unforgettable day. I am also very honoured to be a preferred planner at all three locations, which fills my heart with joy!

Hamswell House: A Historical Haven

Camilla Arnhold Photography

Hamswell House is the epitome of historical elegance. This private estate is nestled in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers panoramic views of the countryside, making it a picturesque setting for a marquee wedding. The venue features the romantic 18th-century Orangery, lush gardens, and a terraced lawn that can accommodate a marquee for up to 200 guests. The rural setting not only provides a stunning backdrop for your wedding photos but also allows your guests to immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Why Hamswell House?

  • Exclusive Use: Enjoy the exclusivity of having the estate to yourself, ensuring a private and intimate celebration.
  • Breathtaking Views: The panoramic countryside views provide a stunning backdrop for both your ceremony and photographs.
  • Flexibility: Hamswell House offers the flexibility to tailor your marquee setup to your specific needs, ensuring your wedding is uniquely yours.
Camilla Arnhold Photography
Camilla Arnhold Photography with Bath Marquees Clear Span

Parish’s House: Regency Romance

Nicola Jane Photography

Parish’s House is a regency-style gem that sits on acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and offers an idyllic setting for a marquee wedding. The venue is renowned for its stunning architectural features and provides a romantic backdrop that exudes elegance and charm. The expansive gardens are perfect for hosting a marquee reception, where guests can enjoy the serene beauty of the surroundings. Parish’s House is an excellent choice for couples looking for a venue that combines regency elegance with the beauty of nature.

Why Parish’s House?

  • Historic Charm: The regency-style architecture and classic gardens offer a timeless backdrop for your wedding.
  • Private and Intimate: Parish’s House provides an intimate setting that feels both private and exclusive.
  • Versatile Settings: The gardens are adaptable, allowing for a variety of marquee sizes and configurations to suit your wedding needs.
  • Accommodation: There is a quaint gardeners cottage on site for the newly married couple to enjoy.
Nicola Jane Photography with Country Marquees Traditional Poled

Farleigh House: Elegance Meets Nature

Stella Fitzgerald Photography

Farleigh House, a hidden gem located on the outskirts of Bath, is another favourite among couples seeking a blend of elegance and natural beauty. Home to Bath Rugby (their training ground), this venue boasts a grand estate surrounded by meticulously maintained gardens and sprawling lawns, ideal for hosting both your ceremony and marquee reception. Farleigh House’s unique feature is its versatility; whether you’re planning a lavish affair or a more intimate gathering, the estate can be tailored to suit your vision perfectly.

Why Farleigh House?

  • Stunning Grounds: The estate’s gardens and lawns provide a serene and beautiful setting for your wedding day.
  • Customisable Spaces: With various areas to host your event, Farleigh House offers the flexibility to create a bespoke wedding experience.
  • Indoor Space: The house itself can cater for smaller weddings without the requirement of a marquee.
Be Unveiled Photography with Archers Sailcloth Marquee

I will be at Archers Marquees Open Day on Saturday 6th April 10am – 3pm hosted at Farleigh House. I’ll be styling the beautiful sailcloth marquee along with Rebecca Hobbs Floral Design, Queen & Whippet Catering and many other talented suppliers. Whether you are looking at marquees in general and have a site in mind or you are specifically looking at the venue, you can sign up for FREE to the event here. Please note that if you’d like a private tour of the house, do get in touch with Farleigh House directly.

Choosing the right marquee wedding venue near Bath can be a delightful dilemma with so many beautiful options available. Hamswell House, Parish’s House and Farleigh House each offer unique features that can cater to a range of preferences, whether you’re looking for historical elegance, natural beauty, or regency romance. As a wedding planner, my advice is to consider what aspects of a venue resonate most with you and your partner, and how each space can be tailored to create the wedding of your dreams. Remember, your wedding day is a reflection of your love story—choose a venue that feels like home.

For more wedding planning insights and venue recommendations, feel free to contact me or visit my journal for regular updates. Your dream wedding awaits, and I’m here to help you make it a reality.